About Maria, Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society
Maria is an award-winning, best-selling author and underwater photographer living in Swanage who discovered her passion for sharks and all things ocean whilst recovering from being on the end-of-life pathway after being run over for the second time with 15 fractures and multiple internal and head injuries.
From learning to walk again which took over 3 years, she was determined to follow her love for sharks by snorkelling and funded herself to instigate a project to help The Shark Trust and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society by giving talks and launched conservation campaigns with our Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and the late great author of Jaws, Peter Benchley as well as being asked to photograph Stacey Soloman and film Frank Gardner, BBC Correspondent for a project with the Scuba Trust to help divers with disabilities.
But exploring the ocean wasn't just about sharks. It all helped so much with well-being, taking her mind off her injuries, helping to strengthen wasted muscles and gave a sense of purpose helping to inspire others, particularly those with disabilities or going through life-struggles, that our oceans can provide such an incredible healing space. She also loved exploring and learning about all kinds of sea-creatures pioneering conservation projects overseas for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, then first ever underwater photography courses for compact cameras and became the first person in the UK to receive a Distinction from the Royal Photographic Society for her underwater work with compact cameras.
She has taught editors of Wanderlust and Sport Diver UK Magazines underwater photography, written for Amateur Photographer, DIVE, Sport Diver and Thai Airways Magazine and has also been featured in papers in Kent as well as women's magazine "Real" with her work on the front cover of the Royal Photographic Magazine. She was also lucky enough to spent a day with the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol whilst they were filming blue whales in Monterey Bay, California, as well as spending time with Steve Leonard - TV Veterinary Surgeon "Vets in Practice" - "Extreme Animals."
More recently she has been in Dorset Life, the Yorkshire Post, Amateur Photography and Digital Photographer Magazines as well as being asked to give the first ever talk on underwater photography at The Photography Show at Birmingham's NEC last September.
Maria has been giving talks on underwater photography since 2005 when she pioneered and launched the first ever courses in the world dedicated to help beginners take beautiful photographs with compact cameras at London's Excel, helping to launch PADI's Digital Underwater Photography Speciality. She regularly appeared both there and at Birmingham's NEC as well as giving talks for Calumet and many dive clubs around the country, raising money for charities such as the Scuba Trust, helping disabled people to dive, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Biteback, the Shark Trust as well as the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, The Shark Trust and Sea Shepherd (over £5,000 in total). She also funded herself to go undercover in a shark and manta ray fishery in Indonesia to contribute important information to try to get manta rays protected from being fished for Chinese Medicine at a CITES Convention in Bangkok the following year.
She has also helped two children's orphanages, The School of Hope in Mabul Island, Malaysia and another one near to Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Since this time, 22 guests have won prizes here and in the USA as well as Maria herself winning the coveted British Sub-Aqua Club's Travel Photographer of the Year Award, Bronze Medal Winner in Underwater Photography twice, reaching the Final 100 in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2012 as well as winning "Book of the Year" in the Dive Industry, as voted by Diver Magazine in 2011 at London's Excel Centre. She has recently launched her second book "Get Creative With Your Compact Camera."
She was invited down to Swanage by Divers Down in 2012 and had a studio in Wareham for 5 years where she fundraised to replace a broken defibrilator casing and after working through the pandemic as Frontline A&E/ICU NHS staff across Dorset, Hampshire and even Sunderland up north, she has finally managed to follow her dream to move her studio to the sea here in Swanage and qualify as an SSI Snorkel Instructor and is also a Snorkel Member of the British Sub-Aqua Club.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to meeting you soon.